A good wine may have been a bit pretentious so I settled on a bottle of plonk and eight cans of Boddingtons. I was quite taken aback when Declan answered the door. He was the double of his Dad even down to the specs. I got even more of a shock when I saw Marie. Short cropped hair and another pair of thick glasses. I was beginning to feel under dressed. They were all clones.
“Hi Pete, good to see you again.” Marie gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek. “What have you been doing with yourself?”
“This and that, you know how it is.”
“I don’t actually. You disappeared fifteen years ago and nobody has heard anything since.”
“Yeah I’ve been busy. How are you anyway?” I handed over the wine and cans. Marie seemed pleased with my choice.
“Good, good. Elvis is doing well at the shop and Declan is doing well at school, right little bright spark he is. Chicken all right for you?” She shepherded me into the sitting room. “It was all a bit short notice. You could be a vegetarian or anything.”
“I haven’t changed that much, chicken’s great. Do you see many of them from school then?”
“Yeah, now and again. Down at the shops and that. Elvis says you were wanting to get a school reunion going.”
“Well it was an idea.”
“I thought you hated school and most people in it. Why do you want to go over old ground?” Marie took my jacket.
“Just interested I suppose. See how people are doing now. Gilbert for example I wonder how he’s getting on.”
“Fucking Hell, Gilbert Douglas is a Bank Manager?” I was shocked.
“Mind your language in front of the kid.” Marie slapped me on the arm.
“Sorry, it’s just I can’t believe that Gilbert’s a Bank Manager.”
“She’s pulling your leg, he’s a gardener.” Elvis walked back into the sitting room carrying a bottle of Bordeaux that put my plonk to shame.
“Thank God for that. You had me worried for a moment,” I thought the world had been turned on its head.”
“We were keeping this bottle for a special occasion. I guess a visit after fifteen years can be classed as a special occasion.” I suddenly felt quite embarrassed by the bottle in my hand and tried to hide it. Elvis noticed so I attempted an excuse.
“It was the only wine they had. If I had a bit more time I would have got something better.”
“No problem. Marie loves Liebfraumilch.”
She looked at him quizzically.
“Yeah. I’ll just pop it in the fridge.”
They obviously thought I had fallen on hard times and didn’t want to embarrass me.
“Let’s eat. I’m starving and I can’t wait to show you your surprise.” Elvis looked excited “Another face from school you might recognise but possibly not quite as you may remember it.”
The four of us were lucky enough to all be in the same class. Elvis and myself always sat together although Bumper and Gilbert generally stayed apart. They were friends outside of school but Gilbert was what was known as a ‘Special Child’ who needed extra attention. They sat in the corner of the classroom in their own group however as I was always top of the class, I sometimes got to help him with his Maths.
I’d never been to Gilbert’s house but it was rumoured that they didn’t have a television. He didn’t have a Dad either; I wasn’t sure which was worse. The lack of a television, however, might explain why he wasn’t very bright.
Mrs Matthews was a pleasant woman who always had time for us. She had a jar of sweets in her desk and she used to give them out for good work. Bumper was always good at painting. Elvis and myself were good at Maths and I also excelled at English. Gilbert was good at remembering to turn up but very little else.
We were in the middle of an art lesson when Karen Walker, who was Claire’s best friend, raised her hand.
“Please Miss, Kevin Davison’s escaped.”
And he had. As we looked out of the first floor window we saw the tubby shape of Kevin disappearing over the school fence. He removed his elasticated red tie and threw it to the floor.
“Let the Bugger go,” said Mrs Matthews.
“Come on then. What is it that you’re so desperate to show me?”
The meal had been lovely. Chicken with Basil and cherry tomatoes in a cream sauce. The wine had relaxed me and I was feeling at ease.
“Do you remember Mr Burns?” Elvis moved over to a PC in the corner.
“I could hardly forget him, the old bastard,” I replied. “I was hoping he was dead.”
“He’ll probably wish he was soon. You know I fix computers?”
“Well, the other day I was sitting in the shop doing a bit of work and who should walk in but old Burnsy. He’s got this top of the range PC. Bit of a surprise really considering what an old fart he is.” Elvis tapped away on his keyboard. “Anyway, his hard drive was buggered and he wanted to know if I could fix it. Cheeky Bugger wanted a discount because he used to teach us. I should charge the twat double for what he put us through.”
“Too bloody right,” I agreed as Marie started clearing the table. I headed over to the PC.
“I went round to his house but it was a bigger job than I had expected and I had to take it back to the shop.” Elvis inserted a disk into the drive. “I got it up and running but being the nosy bugger I am, I decided to have a bit of a poke about in his files. See if there was anything in there about any of his old pupils. I came across a couple of files that were password protected. It made me think because there’s only him and his old bird in the house and I’m sure she doesn’t know how to work the computer. Well passwords are a doddle to override when you know what you’re doing.”
“Enough of the computer master class, Elvis. Are you going to get to the point?”
“Yeah, I was just about to. Have a butchers at what came up when I got into the files.”
“Fucking Hell!” My jaw dropped when I saw the screen. I had to grab the back of the sofa to regain my balance. The wine must have been stronger than I thought.
“Makes interesting viewing doesn’t it?”
“Interesting viewing? I can’t believe it.”
“And that’s not the best of it.” Elvis clicked on another file.
“Jesus, that’s sick.”
“Yeah I don’t think it would go down to well with the PTA would it?”
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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